Getting laid off must really suck. The victim is not only left without a steady income and with a blemish on the résumé, but with a deep sense of betrayal. Trusted co-workers and team members who provided positive feedback one day turned a cold shoulder the next.

And worse, the person being let go is rarely the “proximate cause” of this career black mark. The economy takes a bad turn, or some partner has botched a case and lost a key client, triggering a layoff.

That’s a recipe for depression.

But it’s important not to let that depression reach the level of “calling former colleagues and threatening to kill them.”

Unfortunately, federal prosecutors say a top law school graduate didn’t get that message…

Ryan Walsh, 30, was indicted last week in the Eastern District of Missouri for using ye olde interstate commerce to transmit a murder threat. Walsh, a graduate of NYU Law (Go Violets!), called a former colleague at Bryan Cave, the firm that laid him off, and allegedly threatened to kill him.

Over the phone? Who uses phones to ‘Reach Out and Threaten Someone’ anymore? This is the first detail that leads me to believe Walsh must have been blackout drunk or something, because otherwise he’d have texted or emailed like a normal person under the age of 45.

The threat itself is excerpted in the unsealed criminal complaint:

I show up to murder pieces of (expletive) like you. … Let’s record this as a threat and turn it over to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel. This is like an arbitration or something. But, more importantly, I’m going to kill you.

Let’s go ahead and break this down. The first thing Walsh allegedly says involves the word “murder,” so he’s not off to a great start.

Then he tells the other guy that this is, explicitly, a “threat.” Strike two, buddy. This also provides my second clue that Walsh must have had a clouded mind if he really delivered this threat, because Walsh supposedly tells him to file this with the “Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel” (presumably of Missouri, since that’s not a thing in New York), which somewhat undersells the severity of threatening to kill someone over the phone.

I’ve handled more than a few arbitrations, and threatening to assassinate someone is not “like an arbitration or something.” This may, however, be Walsh’s way of explaining that his supposed threats aren’t really that serious. It’s all just part of the posturing in an arbitration. Okay, ball one. Maybe Walsh could salvage this.

“But, more importantly, I’m going to kill you.” Strike three. We’re done here.

If convicted, Walsh faces a fine and/or imprisonment of not more than five years.

Perhaps this whole affair could work out for Walsh. According to reports, he’s gone from working at Bryan Cave in New York, to living in Cassville, Missouri, population 3,237. When you’re looking at Branson (“Las Vegas if it was run by Ned Flanders”) as your nearest cultural touchstone, prison becomes an attractive alternative.

Ex-Bryan Cave lawyer arrested for threatening former colleague [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
18 U.S.C. § 875(c) [Legal Information Institute]


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